MOVING INTO YOUR BEST DAYS

Let’s start by placing ourselves on the mental map of Jesus. Luke wrote Season One of the biography of Jesus. It was EXPLOSIVE! … and ended with a cliff-hanger: Jesus […]

Let’s start by placing ourselves on the mental map of Jesus. Luke wrote Season One of the biography of Jesus. It was EXPLOSIVE! … and ended with a cliff-hanger: Jesus had raised from being DEAD! But now what?

 

So Luke picked up the pen and parchment to begin writing Season Two of the life of Jesus. That season talked about the life of Jesus … as it was lived through the Apostles! We call Luke’s Sequel, “The Book of Acts.”

 

(You know all about Season Three since YOU are featured in it.) Season Three is the life of Jesus as He lives through the CHURCH. You’re helping to write Season Three!

 

And John wrote SEASON FOUR. It tells about the life of Jesus at the end of this world and into the NEW planet Earth! We call it, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.” Or, “Revelations” for short.

 

WHAT A BIOGRAPHY, this four-volume work on the life of Jesus!! The greatest story ever told … and TRUE!

 

But for now, come back with me to the beginning of Season Two when Luke wrote his sequel to his Gospel. We call it the Acts of the Apostles. (Kind of a dumb name! It’s really the continuation of the life of Jesus lived through the Apostles and the early Church.)

 

So let’s think about Acts, Chapter 1. It’s about the 50 days from when Jesus died and His Father overruled His death sentence … to the day before Pentecost. For 40 days, Jesus apparently did three things:

 

  1. appeared and disappeared randomly to train them that even when He wasn’t visible, He was never actually gone;
  2. proved that He was really raised from the dead, using all sorts of ways that involved lots of eating (In those days, everyone believed in ghosts and everyone “knew” that ghosts don’t eat);
  3. explained to them all about the Kingdom.

 

What a disorienting time that month and a half must have been!! 

 

And then He REALLY left, emphasizing it by levitating until He was out of sight in the sky, blessing them as He rose higher and higher, and then dwindling from view until He was gone!!

 

So they trudged back to Jerusalem. Alone and lonely for Him. And they had two choices: wait or dissipate. So they waited. 

 

For what? “We’re not entirely sure. Father-God is supposed to be delivering a gift to us. He called it the HOLY Spirit.” 

 

OK, then what? “Again, not sure! He said that we’d get power and then travel the world, talking about Him.” 

 

I think that it is likely that if we could have interviewed them at that moment, the disciples might have said, “I mean, travel is great and everything, but I MISS Him. I just wish He’d come back. I know He wants us to wait and pray. But I think our BEST days are behind us.”

 

Think about it: they had spent the last three years laughing and walking and camping under the open sky with Him. And asking Him stuff around the campfire in the evenings. And they watched blind people receive healing and lame people dance and all that stuff. 

 

They could be forgiven for thinking, “It just feels like it’s got to be downhill from here.”

Then came Acts Chapter Two: BOOM! Everything changes.

 

We don’t have the brains or the time to figure out what change was made inside them through the Holy Spirit to go from Chapter One to Chapter Two. But here’s a clue to how profound the change was: 

 

The FIRST sermon in the history of the Church starts with the sentence: “We’re not drunk.” What a way to start a movement! 

 

I’ve been meditating on all of this because we live in a time when many are wondering if our best days ARE in the rearview mirror!

 

And all sorts of pundits are announcing the demise of the church.

 

“The church’s most productive days,” we are told, “are behind us.” 

 

This reminds me of a saying: When your memories are greater than your dreams, you’re writing your last chapter.

 

Let me describe this with a word-picture. When you throw a ball up in the air, there comes a moment when it reaches the very top of the distance it will travel. That split second when the momentum of your throw is matched EXACTLY by the gravity pulling it toward the ground, for that FRACTION OF A SECOND, it is as if the ball is suspended in mid-air. But we all know what happens next.

 

Now think about YOUR PERSONAL ministry and YOUR CHURCH’S ministry. Is it still arcing upward, driven by the vision that God has given you? Or do you feel, deep in your heart, that your BEST days of ministry are NOT ahead of you, but behind you?

 

“As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).

 

If you have been a Christian for a significant period of time, you have MEMORIES of great fervency toward God. Some of you would say, “You know what, Steve? I can remember when I first was saved and I could NOT GET ENOUGH of praying. I COULD NOT GET ENOUGH of reading the Word of God. I woke up EVERY MORNING with praises on my lips. I would say to God, ‘Lord, YOU JUST SAY THE WORD, and I will obey You, no matter what it is! I’ll go where You want me to go, dear Lord, I’ll do what You want me to do!’”

 

Fast-forward to the present day. If you, in the most PRIVATE place in your heart, have begun BELIEVING that you have to look BACKWARD for your best days of being used by God …

 

WHO TOLD YOU THAT LIE??

 

Re-read that question … maybe even out loud.

 

Here’s a clue as to where that lie came from: Who would BENEFIT from having you believe that your BEST days are behind you? God, or the devil?

 

You know the answer automatically:

  • Our LORD would not benefit from having you fall for the lie that your best days are behind you as an individual … as a couple … or as a church.
  • Only SATAN, the father of lies, would get any mileage out of convincing you that your life has peaked and is heading downhill from this point on!

 

Today it is STILL our job to PRAY and then GET TO WORK to rescue lost people! But the father of lies is whispering, “Not you. Not anymore.”

 

In a relay race, someone runs like crazy and when they reach the next teammate, the baton is handed off to the guy who takes off like the wind! But here’s what they don’t usually show you on TV: The second the next runner gets the baton, the first runner SLOWS DOWN. He STOPS! He bends over with his hands on his knees, or he puts his elbows high in the air.

 

BUT A SPIRITUAL RELAY RACE DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY!

 

In the SPIRITUAL realm, NO ONE has permission to drop out of the race just because others have become involved! God NEVER said, Make disciples until someone else starts making disciples, and then ease off the gas and head for your lazy-boy recliner!

 

There was one guy in the Bible (Luke 12:19), of course, who WAS quoted as saying to himself, “You’ve done enough. Now take it easy. Eat, drink, and be merry!” SPOILER ALERT: things didn’t turn out well for him.

 

Please read this next thought VERY CAREFULLY so you don’t misunderstand me.

 

If by God’s grace you are able to retire from your career and don’t have to put in all those hours at work anymore, toiling away for money to pay the bills, then PRAISE GOD! GOD IS NOT OPPOSED TO RETIRING FROM YOUR WORKPLACE! But if you extend that thought to, “And not only that, I’ll let the younger guys serve in the church or lead people to Christ out in the community while I catch up on lots of TV watching or sleeping around the house all day,” then you are living out the DEVIL’s dream for the final lap of your life’s race.

 

And this is important to say: I am not just talking to elderly people. People can begin coasting spiritually at ANY age! They can decide to turn and focus on their own pleasures in their 20s, after following Jesus in their teens!

 

But there are many OTHERS who are serving God WHOLE-HEARTEDLY in their 80s and 90s, and putting the younger Christians to shame!

 

THIS IS NOT AN AGE THING; IT IS A MENTAL THING!

 

So for everyone reading these words, younger or older, here’s the question: Why has God not given any of us permission to drop out of the race?

 

First, it is GOD who works and wills His good pleasure through our lives. And He’s not done. There is NO ONE of whom God would say, “Actually, I’m done with you. Thanks for the years of service, but I can’t think of a way that you could still benefit My Kingdom.” That doesn’t even SOUND like God!

 

Second, the Bible says that when David had FULFILLED his purpose for his generation, he DIED. You’re not dead … so you haven’t fulfilled all the purposes that God has for you in your generation.

 

Third, there are STILL people who God LOVES who are in danger of hell. It isn’t right for ANYONE to say, “Well, MY children are saved. MY grandchildren are saved. MY family is in a good place, so I’m hanging it up.”

 

IN UKRAINE, the young men and the old ones (who have gotten their wives and children to safety across the border) are TURNING AROUND and HEADING BACK TOWARD THE GUNFIRE …

 

… because the job’s not done.

 

Those Ukrainian men are INSPIRED by their courageous leader, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. In fact, people from all over the free world … people from the United States and Canada and England and France and Germany and many other countries … are HEADING INTO UKRAINE to help rescue those brave people. They are LITERALLY marching to the sound of the guns in a war that is not their own out of love for the Ukrainian people!

 

And should we not be MORE moved by the courage and sacrifice of JESUS who took ALL OF OUR SINS upon His own shoulders on the cross and just wants us to tell everyone the good news so that they can be saved?

 

Can we do it?

 

  • Inwardly we are being renewed by God, day after day!
  • He who began a good work in us has promised that He will CARRY IT ON to completion on the day of Christ!
  • We can do ALL things through Christ who gives us strength!

 

And that brings us finally to the verse that I want to have you REALLY THINK ABOUT with me as we wrap up.

 

The Apostle Paul says some stuff that seems kind of hard to understand. He is talking about the fact that we used to NOT BE ABLE TO SEE THE THINGS OF GOD CLEARLY until Jesus came into our lives and removed the veil that was blocking our vision. Then he says this shocking thing:

 

(WAIT FOR IT! HERE COMES THE MIND-BLOWING PART!)

 

“We are seeing the glory of Jesus starting to become visible WHEN WE LOOK AT OURSELVES IN THE MIRROR (!!) because we are progressively being TRANSFORMED, from glory to glory, AS THE LORD’S SPIRIT MAKES US MORE AND MORE LIKE HIM!!”

 

Right smack in the middle of this verse is a word that is SO RARE AND UNUSUAL that God only uses it HERE and nowhere else in the Bible! But it is found in the ancient Greek literature all over the place, so we know what it means!

 

The word means to look at your SELF in the mirror! Not to look at something else, but to look at YOUR OWN REFLECTION. It is REFLEXIVE.

 

Paul is saying, “You know what? Praise God, YOU LOOK MORE LIKE JESUS than when you first met Him!”

 

He’s saying, “God’s character is being STAMPED ON YOUR FACE the longer you walk with Him, and it is finally REALLY SHOWING!!”

 

Brothers and sisters, this is NO TIME TO QUIT or to take your foot off the gas pedal!!

 

YOU ARE BETTER EQUIPPED TODAY TO DO GREAT THINGS FOR GOD THAN YOU HAVE EVER BEEN!!

 

When you were a baby Christian, you were ON FIRE for Jesus! I’ll do ANYTHING for You, Jesus! Let me at it!!

 

And that ZEAL was very pleasing to the Lord!

 

But it wasn’t maturity.

 

But now (what a great combination), when you look in the spiritual mirror, you can say … 

 

“I’ve been through some hard times in my life. This is not my first rodeo. Jesus is INCREASINGLY being formed in me. I may not have been the fastest learner that ever walked the earth, but I am COMMITTED to being JUST AS ON FIRE and QUICK TO OBEY as ever … not because of naiveté, but out of MATURE DEDICATION!

 

Thanks for the reminder, Jesus. I’ll be marching to the sound of the guns.”